Dragon’s Tooth

Dragon’s Tooth is a unique geologic feature that consists of Tuscarora quartzite spires which outcrop on the top of Cove Mountain. The tallest “tooth” projects roughly 35 feet above the surrounding rock. The trail to Dragon’s Tooth ascends steep, rugged outcrops of quartzite which form the spine of Cove Mountain and North Mountain. The spine is known as Dragon’s Back.

Note: The Dragon’s Tooth hike is one of the most popular hikes along the entire Appalachian Trail and sees a tremendous amount of hiker traffic. The trailhead parking lot (Rt. 311) has limited space; DO NOT PARK on Rt. 311 – YOU WILL BE TOWED. It is ideal to hike this on a weekday as weekends are very crowded. Vehicles not parked in the parking lot are subject to tow. Please read specific rules and regulations at the bottom of this description.

Hike Description

  • ~ 4.5 mile round trip, out and back hike.
  • Moderate to difficult.
  • 20 minutes from downtown Roanoke.
  • Map kiosk at trailhead (very straight forward hike). Take a picture of the map so you have it on your phone.
  • The trail starts with a kiosk at the back of the parking lot. You will follow the blue-blazed trail to the very top.
  • Go 0.25 mile and cross two small bridges.
  • You’ll see the intersecting yellow-blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail. Bear right and continue on the blue-blazed trail.
  • Continue for nearly 1.5 miles, crossing the creek several times on a steady incline before reaching the Appalachian Trail intersection.
  • Turn right to go south on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. There will be 0.7 miles of steep rock steps before bearing left at the intersection to follow the blue-blazed trail to Dragon’s Tooth.
  • Come back the way you went up, or once you reach the Appalachian Trail, go beyond the blue-blazed trail you started on and continue north on the A.T. until you reach the yellow-blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail. You’ll go left on this trail until you reach the blue-blazed Dragon’s Tooth Spur Trail, and go right toward the parking lot. This second route back offers different scenic views.

Directions to Trail Head

  • From Roanoke – take I-81 south to Exit 141. Turn left at the traffic light onto Rt. 419 (Electric Rd.) and follow 0.4 miles to next traffic light (Rt. 311). Turn right onto Rt. 311N and follow for 10 miles. Dragon’s Tooth parking lot is on left just past Catawba Grocery.

Rules & Regulations

  • Max. group size for day hikes is 25 people.
  • Max. group size for backpacking/camping is 10 people.
  • No alcohol
  • Bring lots of drinking water
  • Bring a flashlight as groups often lose track of time and are hiking back in the dark
  • Dogs must be on leash at all times (be aware there is a section where you will have to lift your dog up a 6′ wall)
  • No camping or campfires on Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob or Tinker Cliffs
  • Practice Leave No Trace
  • Pack out all trash
  • No camping or campfires outside of the 7 designated shelters/camping areas.
  • Visit local A.T. C. Club for more details.

Add On

  • Finish your day with a great meal at the Home Place – a restaurant famous among thru hikers. To reach the Home Place, continue north on Rt. 311 for ~1 mile to a large white farmhouse on left.
  • Grab a beer at Parkway Brewing Co.
  • Go see a baseball game! Click here for Salem Red Sox schedule

Nearby Breweries

  • Olde Salem Brewing Company – Salem Expand Collapse

    Located at the very heart of Salem Virginia’s Historic Main Street District, Olde Salem Brewing Co. exudes history. The building was constructed just 114 years after the town was founded in 1806 by James Simpson; and was home to a well known appliance store for decades. Olde Salem believes its craft beers hold a piece of that history in every glass.

    Open Tuesday through Sunday.

    Be sure to check out our downtown Roanoke location on the corner of Church and Market Streets.

  • Parkway Brewing Company Expand Collapse

    Parkway Brewing Company is a 4 vessel, 30 bbl micro-brewery with a 17,000 barrel capacity, in Salem, Virginia, specializing in distinctive ales for the discriminating beer enthusiast. Founded in 2012, Parkway Brewing offers several beers exclusively on-site, as well as flagship beers sold in bottles and kegs throughout Virginia.

    Random live music, from old-time bluegrass to blues and rock, and a variety of food trucks make this a destination for weary travelers who need a break from driving on Interstate 81. A casual, low-key vibe, along with some stellar brews keep the locals coming back for more. Family friendly and boasting an outdoor beer garden, Parkway Brewing has become one of Salem’s most unique and welcome community assets.

    The tasting room is open seven days a week:

    • Mon. and Tues:  2-8pm
    • Wed. and Thurs:  2-9pm
    • Fri. and Sat: 12-9pm
    • Sunday:  12-8pm

Nearby Wineries

  • Beliveau Estate Winery Expand Collapse

    Beliveau Estate Winery sits on 165 scenic acres nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just 30 minutes from downtown Salem.

    The winery features award-winning red and white wines in dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet fashions are available for tasting, by the glass, and by the bottle. Bring your own picnic or order lite fare from our chef’s daily menu. Take advantage of the property’s spectacular mountain views, on-site hiking trails, fragrant lavender garden, covered veranda, stocked ponds, hilltop pavilion, Italian tiled reception hall, outdoor patio and tiki bar, and on-site French country-style bed and breakfast with catering.

    The winery and tasting room are open Wednesday through Sunday.

Nearby Shopping & Gear

  • Blue Ridge Horse Force Expand Collapse

    The mission of the Blue Ridge Horse Force is to promote grassroots showmanship and sportsmanship by uniting local open horse shows. BRHF shows are held by organizations ranging from 4-H groups to civic leagues to training stables to charitable organizations. All are able to raise more funds for their groups through increased BRHF member participation. Exhibitors can compete at any of these shows knowing that there will be uniformity in class descriptions and offerings.

  • Hunter’s Den Expand Collapse

    The Hunter’s Den in New Castle is a one-stop shop for hunting needs (rifle and archery).

  • R.O.A. – Roanoke Outfitting & Adventures Expand Collapse

    Your go to resource for paddle sports in the Roanoke Valley.

    ROA is a paddle shop, guide service, and educational center located in Salem, VA.

    • Need a boat? They carries Silverbirch canoes, Tootega kayaks, paddles, PFDs, and more.
    • Need to outfitter your boat for a better fit? They have you covered.
    • Want to learn? They offer ACA Canoe & Kayak certifications and river safety classes, along with playboat classes.
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